Men’s hockey games can do without its cheerleaders

Cheerleaders are the hip thing to write about these days. After a column appeared in The Daily in October criticizing cheerleaders, Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated took up the call and heckled cheerleaders in his column.
So, always one to ride the wave of public sentiment, some of us here at the Daily sports section would like to officially call for the end of cheerleaders — at least at men’s hockey games.
The last time a Daily columnist tore into cheerleaders, he got mail asking how the University could even think of getting rid of cheerleading.
Cheerleading started here 100 years ago. That’s great. I don’t hear Chicago University bragging about helping to invent nuclear weapons.
Let’s face it, cheerleaders have no business at a hockey game. If ever there was a group of fans who don’t need cheerleaders, it’s hockey fans.
At Saturday’s game against St. Cloud State, the cheerleaders met a resounding silence when they took the ice.
OK, it wasn’t silence. The band was playing and people were probably talking to each other. Fans just don’t care.
At least about cheerleaders. While cheerleaders need to go (from men’s hockey, anyway), Goldy deserves a hefty pay raise. Hell, why not hire a fleet of mascots to fire up the crowd?
At least Goldy can get fans to put their hands together and occasionally he pounds the hell out of a certain sandwich mascot. There’s nothing like an angry Gopher.
And there’s nothing like not having cheerleaders around. Let’s face it, in professional sports cheerleaders are merely sex symbols.
The Dallas Cowboys’ cheerleaders put out a swimsuit issue, for chrissakes. In the pros, cheerleaders are just a diversion from the game.
When was the last time a Timberwolves cheerleader did what her name implies — lead a cheer? Professional sports has trained fans to ogle cheerleaders, not cheer with them.
That might be OK; that might be wrong. The thing is, cheerleaders aren’t leading cheers anymore — especially at men’s hockey games.
They do lead one cheer (inadvertently). When cheerleaders run up the stairs at Mariucci Arena, the student section does a crescendo of noises not unlike “hut-hut-hut.”
That’s what we need more of. When that’s the biggest reaction the cheerleaders can get out of the crowd, people should wonder why they’re there.
Cheerleaders are the window dressing at an event like men’s hockey. It’s nice having cheerleaders (and their half-cousin, the dance team) at men’s basketball and football games. Sure, it adds to the atmosphere and all that.
But at hockey, there’s no need for cheerleaders. Unless of course you need someone to make fun of.

Jim Schortemeyer is the sports editor and welcomes comments at [email protected]